The Rest of the Lord
Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
Let Us Fear
This is a continuation of thought from the last verse in Hebrews chapter three, which concluded that the children of Israel could were not able to enter into the land of promise because of unbelief.
Or, it could be said this way. Because it was unbelief that prevented Israel from entering into what God had promised them, let us be aware of the possibility that our own unbelief might prevent us from entering into a promise of rest that God has given us also.
It says He swore in His wrath that they, the ones who would not believe, the ones who sinned the sin of not believing His promise, they would not enter into His rest.
Not Mixed with Faith
Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
What was the gospel that was preached unto them? It was the promise that God would give them a land that flowed with milk and honey, that He would make provision for everything they would need, and that they would live a blessed life serving the LORD as their God.
In Christ we have similar promises. The Lord Jesus is our shepherd, we shall not want. Our God shall supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. We seek first the kingdom of God, and all the things the Gentiles run after shall be added unto us.
Yet they did not mix faith in the promises they heard. They rebelled against the LORD and refused to go into the land God had promised. He is exhorting us not to make the same mistake.
The Rest of the LORD
Hebrews 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
The writer is once again referring to Psalm 95:11, as in chapter 3, which says that God swore in His wrath that they would not enter into His rest. He is pointing out that the notion of a promised rest was given to us in scripture, specifically, in Psalm 95.
And he points out that those who believe in Christ, we which have believed, do enter into rest. So, we can see that this rest he speaks of is associated with our redemption in Christ. We who have believed enter in.
. . . although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. We will comment on this in the next section.
The Sabbath Rest
Hebrews 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
The writer is building an argument, building a case, one point at a time. He has already pointed out that a rest is promised to us in the scripture in Psalm 95. The point he is setting forth here is that God Himself rested. We find this in Genesis 2:2.
Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
Now we know from other places in scripture that God neither slumbers nor sleeps. He does not get tired. So, why then did He rest? He rested because He was finished. He ceased from His labors, because all the work was done. Everything that man and all creation would ever need had been provided.
Creation Perpetuates Itself
And, as far as we know from scripture, He never went back to work. He is still resting. He set all of creation into motion, and creation has perpetuated itself for all the generations since then.
The air has replenished itself. The trees have provided fruit. The ground has brought forth crops. The water has purified itself over and over, the animals have reproduced themselves generation after generation, as has man himself, while God has been at rest.
Others are Meant to Rest
Hebrews 4:5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
Again, he reiterates the verse in Psalm 95:11 to make the point that it is God’s intention that others enter into His rest with Him.
Some Must Enter
Hebrews 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
Here are his next two points. The promise of rest has been left unfulfilled and some must enter. That is to say, it remains, it has been forsaken or left behind. It is still for us to partake of. And again he reminds us that those to whom it was preached at first did not enter into this promised rest because of unbelief.
Today After So Long a Time
Hebrews 4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
What is the point he is making here? He is pointing out that the LORD limited or marked out a certain day, the day when David said in Psalm 95, TODAY, after such a long time, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.
In other words, God was making mention through David’s prophetic song that there was still a promise of His rest which at that point was yet unfulfilled. But it might be asked, had not Israel rested? Did not Joshua lead Israel into the promised land after they wandered in the wilderness for forty years? Yes, he did. Did not they enter into God’s rest? No, they did not.
Hebrews 4:8 For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
If Joshua had led Israel into God’s rest, then the LORD would not have brought the matter up later, during the time of David. Joshua did lead them into the promised land, yet he did not lead them into this promised rest of the LORD. And generations later in David’s time, it was still left unfulfilled.
There Remains a Rest
Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
Here is the conclusion that the writer’s argument is leading up to. There remains a rest for the people of God. He uses this word “remaineth” again, which is the Greek word apoleipo (ap-ol-ipe'-o) which means to leave behind or to forsake. He is saying that there has been a promise of rest left behind for us.
Ceased from his Own Works
Hebrews 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
What does it mean to cease from our own works? In a nutshell it means to cease from being the controlling force of our life and allowing the Lord to have control.
1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
How do you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God? By casting all your cares, concerns, and worries on Him. We take our worries to Him in prayer and we leave them there with Him. In other words, we relinquish control. We cease from our own works. We enter into rest.
Let Us Labor to Rest
Hebrews 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Entering into this kind of rest is not easy. In fact, this verse says for us to labor or to work to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of unbelief that Israel experienced. It is unbelief that keeps us from entering this rest.